For years, brandy has been my go-to after-dinner sipper. While others may reach for the heavier digestifs, I prefer the clean, elegant balance of a fine-charactered brandy. For this cocktail, I wanted to marry a dessert-like quality of a good after-dinner drink with the digestive aspect of a stirred, spirit-forward cocktail, perfect for the holidays. Notes of chocolate and Olorosso sherry help draw out the nuttiness of Cardenal Mendoza, while nuances of banana, coffee and cinnamon play off its considerable time spent in oak. A touch of Angelus liqueur provides a welcome but not overwhelming sweetness to round out the palette and leave a lasting finish. Sobremesa is the Spanish tradition of relaxing at the table after a heavy meal, and is traditionally enjoyed with coffee, liqueur, and/or a cigar. Meaning literally "over the table," it involves the time spent after a meal, making memories, hanging out with family and friends, digesting, chatting and enjoying each other's company. As the holidays approach this year, I wanted this cocktail to become a go-to sombremesa serve around dinner tables everywhere, for new family traditions just waiting to be made.
1.5 oz Cardenal Mendoza Solera Reserva
0.25 oz Angelus liqueur
0.75 oz Oloroso Sherry
1.0 oz coffee-banana syrup
9 drops Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
Build liquid ingredients into a mixing glass and stir. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a cozy blanket of coconut-saigon whipped cream. Microplane a fluffy pillow of praline pecan atop. To make coffee-banana syrup: Combine equal parts by weight cold-brew coffee and raw Demerara sugar in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Stir until well-combined. Then into a zip-locked bag, add 2 parts by weight banana purée to every 1 part coffee-demerara syrup, and sous vide mixture at 80° centigrade for 10 minutes. Fine strain through a nut milk bag or 100-micron superbag.
To make coconut-saigon whipped cream: Combine 1.5 oz coconut milk, 1.5 oz Coco Lopez, and 0.5 oz saigon syrup into a shaker tin. (If your bar does not already have saigon syrup, combine 1 cup purified water with 1 cup table sugar and 2 tsp ground Saigon cinnamon in a saucepan over low-medium heat, stir until well-combined, then fine strain.) Remove the coil from a Hawthorne strainer and drop it into the tin. Shake vigorously until your whipped cream yields soft-to-medium peaks, then carefully float cream atop cocktail.